BookBrowse Reviews The Irregulars by Jennet Conant

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The Irregulars

Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington

By Jennet Conant

The Irregulars
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2008,
    416 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2009,
    416 pages.

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An extraordinary true tale of deceit, double-dealing, and moral ambiguity set in WWII Washington

History pops right off the page in Jennet Conant's book about, of all things, British spies operating in the United States consigned to produce, of all things, propaganda that would shake Americans out of their isolationist lethargy and come to the aid of Great Britain in their battle with Germany. What pops most is the fact that one generally thinks of spies in terms of the famed James Bond who infiltrated enemy camps to bring back or sabotage secret war strategies. However, the US and Britain were not enemies. Nor were they allies – yet. That is why Roald Dahl's group, overseen by the famous Anglo uber spymaster Bill Stephenson, aka Intrepid, was charged with penetrating American circles of power in order to bust the nation's neutrality on the issue of Hitler's threat.

It is a matter of historical record that America had to be practically dragged, kicking ...

Photos: Top: Roald Dahl when he was a RAF pilot, which likely dates the photo to 1939-1941 - after a serious crash in 1940 which fractured his skull, smashed his nose, and temporarily blinded him, he returned to active service but was invalided home in He was invalided home to Britain in June 1941 with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.  2nd: David Ogilvy, probably taken in the 1950s.  3rd: Undated photo of Ian Fleming (from ianfleming.com), Bottom: Noel Coward in 1930


Interesting to Note
It was during the wartime period that Dahl discovered a talent for writing - penning his first book, Gremlins, in 1943. Illustrated by Walt Disney Studios, possibly by Disney himself, and slated to be made into a movie (which was later canceled). Gremlins fell out of print shortly after the war, but was republished in 2006.

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